Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has refused to answer how her State Government will further support Victoria’s dairy farmers, despite her complaints that the Federal Government’s $579 million assistance package is not enough.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce announced a $555 million concessional loans scheme last month after Murray Goulburn and Fonterra unexpectedly slashed milk prices.
Extra Rural Financial Counselling services are available, and dairy families can also now receive the Commonwealth Government’s $1000 per fortnight Farm Household Allowance payments.
Victoria was immediately allocated $30 million for initial concessional loan demand, with further funds available to be allocated when needed.
However, Ms Pulford stalled the process to roll out the loans and instead focused on petty political games.
Today in the Legislative Council, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath asked what was missing from the Commonwealth package, but the Minister refused to provide an answer.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
“When put on the spot and asked what else the Andrews Labor Government planned to do to assist dairy farmers, Ms Pulford arrogantly refused to answer.”
“The $11.4 million of state and industry funds Ms Pulford has announced so far is, of course, welcome but there is more that the State Government could do.
“Farmers have requested direct financial support, like rates rebates which were last week requested by Gannawarra and Campaspe shires and water charge waivers.
“So far, Ms Pulford has ignored these calls from the very farmers she claims to represent, and instead focused on grubby political games.”
Nationals Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy has been appointed to the Shadow Cabinet.
Mr McCurdy takes on the roles of Shadow Minister for Regional Development, and Shadow Minister for Veterans and Sport.
The positions were vacant after Damian Drum stood down from State Parliament to contest the seat of Murray in the July 2 Federal election.
Quotes attributable to Mr McCurdy:
“I’m honoured to take on these roles and carry on the great work of Damian Drum.
“It’s a significant responsibility given Regional Development, Veterans and Sport are important to so many Victorians.
“I look forward to the opportunity I’ve been given to make a positive difference in these areas.
“I’ve always been a staunch advocate for regional development and I’m excited to broaden my work to a state level.
“Under Daniel Andrews, the further you live from Melbourne, the less our regional communities get. I’ll continue the Coalition’s work of holding this Labor Government to account.
“I also look forward to working with Victoria’s veterans’ communities, including the Victorian RSL and its many sub-branches which are unparalleled in their advocacy and support services.
“Similarly, I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to lobby for Victoria’s sporting community.
“From junior levels and social clubs right through to elite ranks, Victorians love their sport and I look forward to working with clubs and sporting organisations to grow participation and support the events that Victorians love.”
Daniel Andrews’ decision to back demands from the United Firefighters Union (UFU) puts in jeopardy Australia’s largest volunteer organisation, Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh said.
The Premier’s support of the UFU’s bid to take over the Country Fire Authority (CFA) confirms Daniel Andrews puts the demands of his union mates before the needs of 60,000 selfless volunteers and our rural communities.
The UFU’s demands include the ability to veto CFA management decisions, handing control of the organisation to the union.
“The strength of the CFA is in its volunteers,” Mr Walsh said.
“Volunteers willingly sacrifice their time, without hesitation, to be at the front-line of protecting country communities from the devastating effects of bushfire.
“It is horrifying to see Daniel Andrews’ bureaucrats urging support for demands that would sell out 60,000 volunteers to his union mates.
“The UFU has made it clear in the past it has no respect for volunteer firefighters.
“Daniel Andrews must stop this deal before it decimates Australia’s largest volunteer organisation.
“The important work of the CFA and its thousands of volunteers must not be compromised by this city-centric Labor Government.”
To show your support for the Country Fire Authority sign the petition at www.peterwalsh.org.au/hands_off_the_cfa
The Coalition Government announced today that it will provide support for Australian dairy farmers who have had their incomes retrospectively cut by dairy processors Murray-Goulburn and Fonterra.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce said the Coalition will deliver immediate assistance to dairy farmers in hardship to help them manage through these difficult times and return to profitability.
“I was pleased to meet dairy farmers in Victoria last week and the Coalition wants to send a clear message that the Coalition stands shoulder to shoulder with them,” Mr Joyce said.
The key elements of the support package are:
- $555 million in Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans
- $20 million to fast track the upgrade of the Macalister Irrigation District
- $2 million to establish a commodity milk price index
- $900,000 for an additional 9 Rural Financial Counsellors in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales
- $900,000 for Dairy Australia’s ‘Tactics for Tight Times’ programme
- Fast tracking Farm Household Allowance applications with 18 more Department of Human Services employees processing claims
- Appointment of a Department of Human Services Dairy Industry Liaison Officer
- Redirection of two Department of Human Services Mobile Service Centres to dairy regions
“The Coalition will be making immediately available $55 million in Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans for Murray-Goulburn and Fonterra suppliers this year, as well as access to $500 million in concessional loans over 2016-17 and 2017-18 years. The recovery loans will be for terms of 10 years,” Mr Joyce said.
The concessional loans will be funded by expanding the drought concessional loan scheme to include dairy-specific criteria.
Mr Joyce said the Coalition was allocating $900,000 to Rural Financial Counselling Services in dairy production areas to ensure farmers receive the farm business financial advice needed, as well as $900,000 to Dairy Australia to continue rolling out one-to-one business advisory support via the Tactics for Tight Times programme.
Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge said the Coalition is taking immediate action to ensure eligible dairy farmers have fast-tracked access to the support they need to get through the tough times.
“We’ve ramped up the number of staff processing Farm Household Allowance claims. An extra 18 people have been brought in to process claims and to work directly with farming families on their individual cases, with a special focus on people in financial hardship,” Mr Tudge said.
“Where a farmer is facing real hardship and we have received the full details, a decision can be made almost immediately. If there is any difficulty obtaining the information we need to assess a claim, Farm Household Case Officers can talk to the farmer’s accountant or financial adviser to help get the information needed.
“Our one-stop-shop Mobile Service Centres are now travelling through the hard-hit dairy areas of regional Victoria and South Australia. The Service Centres provide direct access to the full range of Government services and are staffed with people who can answer farmers’ questions. Farmers can submit claims for Farm Household Allowance and other income support at the Mobile Service Centre, or by mail, online or at any Centrelink or DHS Service Centre.”
Mr Tudge said the Coalition will appoint a dedicated Dairy Industry Liaison Officer who will work on the ground with dairy farmers and local communities to coordinate support and services.
“I encourage any farmer with questions to contact the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 132 316, which is running on extended hours from 8am to 8pm each week day,” Mr Tudge said.
Mr Joyce said the Coalition is delivering these assistance measures now as an immediate response under the Caretaker Conventions, not waiting until after the election on 2 July.
“In a sign of our strong confidence in the future of the Australian dairy industry, a re-elected Coalition Government will commit $20 million to build the upgrade of the Macalister Irrigation System in Gippsland,” Mr Joyce said.
“The Macalister project will upgrade the 1920s and 1950s era Southern-Tinamba area irrigation network delivering almost 10 gigalitres in water savings which can be put back into growing the region’s agricultural production.”
Mr Joyce said to help ensure the domestic dairy industry does not in future find itself in a situation where dairy processors unexpectedly reduce farm gate milk prices late in the season, a re-elected Coalition Government will work with the dairy industry to establish a commodity milk price index.
“The index would introduce greater transparency and market signals in domestic and global milk prices. The Coalition will consult with the industry on the design of the index that would provide dairy farmers with valuable information for use in supply negotiations with processors and to assist in following international price trends,” Mr Joyce said.
“The Coalition values the contribution our dairy farmers make to their regional communities and the nation as a whole and we are proud to support them throughout good times and bad.”
The Nationals are thrilled to have a strong community member and small business owner James Anderson as their Candidate for McEwen.
A born and bred Shepparton man, James grew up on the outskirts of town in the community of Kialla Central.
James feels lucky to come from a family of five that believes in supporting and encouraging old school family values, education, sporting clubs, community groups, faith, the arts, hard work and holidays.
After graduating from Norte Dame College Shepparton and a gap year in America, James studied at Deakin Geelong whilst playing football, working as a concreter and travelling overseas once a year. After graduating from university in 2009 he pursued as many opportunities as possible to experience and learn.
After an internship in Jakarta Indonesia, a PR graduate position in Melbourne, he went and worked on cattle stations in the Kimberly WA. Following this time James started Earthworks Projects as a civil construction project manager and consultant that promoted economical and environmental sustainable construction methodologies and products to local governments in regional VIC, NSW and TAS through his experience in his family owned earth moving business.
It was in Indonesia, where James worked with an influential political communicator and advocate of accountability and change that he became interested in the political landscape. James love of the bush, its people and their opportunities led him to become a member of the National Party.
James believes there are many great business and lifestyle opportunities in regional communities so he bought Tallarook Rural Supplies in January 2016. James enjoys this opportunity to work and build a business in the bush, be a part of the community and hang out with his dog.
Comments from Peter Walsh, Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture:
“This is a good first step for the State Government to support our dairy farmers and their families.
“The next step will be to provide relief that eases the cash flow crunch for our dairy businesses.
“Farmers have raised with me this week the possibility of municipal rates relief, waivers for water charges and easily accessed low interest finance which would help ease some of the financial pressure dairy businesses are under.
“The Liberal-Nationals Coalition stands side by side with our dairy farmers and we will support all Federal and State initiatives that offer relief from this current crisis.”
National’s candidate for Ballarat, Paul Tatchell today welcomed a visit to the Ballarat Saleyards by Senator Bridget McKenzie, a key instigator of the recent Inquiry on the red meat processing sector.
Mr. Tatchell said the purpose of Senator McKenzie’s visit to the saleyards in Ballarat (Thursday) is to talk with local operators about some of the local problems.
The Interim Report into competition in the red meat processing sector by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee was released earlier this month in Canberra.
The purpose of the inquiry was to shine a light on the red meat processing sector in response to meat processors’ boycott of the Barnawartha Saleyards on 17 February 2015.
Senator McKenzie said when nine meat processors all decided not to turn up to the Barnawartha saleyards; it was a watershed moment for producers, prompting me to initiate this Senate inquiry following an outcry from local farmers.
Mr. Tatchell said Ballarat is the biggest sheep yard in Victoria and a Cattle yard, about the same capacity as Barnawartha.
“The site for the proposed new Ballarat Saleyards is totally at odds with Nationals policy in creating economic investment in Victoria’s largest Rural City; The Ballarat saleyards has been the catalyst for economic growth in precinct, and itis inconceivable to put at risk established businesses ran by hard working country people. The saleyards is the iconic heart of Ballarat’s rural history providing a solid foundation for regional investment.
The suggested site in Miners Rest defies the synergies that promote organic growth in commercial terms, and puts unnecessary pressure on the family orientated community of Miners Rest. This is not a case of going backwards to move forwards, it’s about developing opportunities on a proven foundation.” When I came to this district 35 years ago, the saleyards stood idle waiting for the stock to come, look at the precinct now, a thriving commercial precinct with capacity for future development and jobs”
“Senator McKenzie was on the Red Meat Inquiry Committee and her visit enables concerns around this project to be highlighted,” he said.
Local saleyard advocates, the Ballarat Region Saleyards Action Group, welcomed Senator McKenzie’s visit.
Spokesperson Mick Madden said “we are extremely concerned with the manner in which the Ballarat saleyards project has been managed”.
“Ballarat Council has given away a publicly owned business that is generating $1 million in profit per annum, for a single dollar”.
“This arrangement with RIPL threatens the future of stock sales in this region. The new saleyards will be run purely for profit and with excessive fee increases which will be ultimately passed onto the consumer”.
“We are grateful that Senator McKenzie and Paul Tatchell have taken an interest in this issue” said Mr. Madden.
Senator McKenzie said the evidence provided to the committee clearly demonstrated that producer concerns about a lack of transparency and unequal bargaining power with the big meat processors were justified and that continuing to put up with such treatment was simply untenable.
“It had a huge impact on local producers, who were at the mercy of the buyers’ wishes and who saw $50 to $100 taken off every grown beast sold on the day.”
“Throughout this inquiry we heard a lot about abuse of market power. We have heard a lot about producers not wanting to come forward and give evidence because they are afraid of retribution from other players within the supply chain. Confidential submissions received by the committee have included shocking allegations of bullying and intimidation,” Senator McKenzie said.
The ACCC recently announced market study into the cattle and beef industry in Australia which will examine competition, efficiency, transparency and trading issues in the beef and cattle supply chain.
Mr Andy Maddison will be standing in the 2016 Federal Election as the Nationals candidate for the electorate of Bendigo.
Mr Maddison works within his family’s business as a stock and station agent, he knows intimately the daily reality of operating a small business as well as the importance of supporting rural industries across the community.
Mr Maddison is married to Sarah and is father to four boys. He has a strong commitment to the people of the Bendigo electorate and a personal understanding of what support families need from their Government.
Andy’s focus is on fighting for safe roads and infrastructure, rural health needs and bringing economic growth opportunities to the people of Bendigo. Andy is keen on ensuring regional communities have equitable access to services as those Victorians in Melbourne have.
Andy Maddison believes the people of Bendigo deserve a strong future.
The Nationals for Regional Victoria are pleased to announce Paul Tatchell as our strong local candidate for the Federal electorate of Ballarat.
Mr Tatchell has an impressive record of community service within the wider Ballarat community, serving as Moorabool Mayor and in many, varied local leadership roles in areas of health, community safety and planning.
He is married with adult children and is a proud grandfather of one. Mr. Tatchell has lived in the Ballarat electorate for 35 years and over these years he has earned community respect and built a reputation as a passionate, fair community advocate.
Mr Tatchell has run his own family businesses in the trucking industry and knows the true realities of small business as an experienced and community minded business owner. As a business operator and father Mr Tatchell believes local jobs, roads, health, community safety and education are local issues that need a strong conservative candidate to progress.
Mr Tatchell is a community leader who is focussed on finding solutions and recognising local opportunities, he will be a strong voice within the Coalition Government for delivering for the region.
The National party is a growing political force in Canberra because of our strong representation on issues of regional importance such as support for small businesses, increased road funding and delivering on infrastructure development.
With Paul Tatchell as the candidate for Ballarat, local people will have a strong and experienced voice who has the support of a winning Coalition team.
It was revealed this afternoon in a Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing that Daniel Andrews’ Minister for Youth Affairs has completely abandoned young Victorians.
Questioning by the Liberal-Nationals revealed that Jenny Mikakos has abolished the Office of Youth from her department and removed Youth Affairs from this year’s budget output initiatives.
And despite being happy to answer Labor’s questions about other portfolios, when asked by the Liberal-Nationals how many jobs the Back to Work scheme will create for young people, Minister Mikakos said it wasn’t “her issue”.
She told the committee that creating jobs for young people was an issue that relates to the Minister for Employment’s portfolio.
This all comes at a time when TAFE and training enrolments have plummeted by 16 per cent and youth unemployment is as high as 17.1 per cent in parts of the state.
Comments from Shadow Minister for Young Victorians Steph Ryan:
“Instead of supporting young Victorians to undertake training and find work, Jenny Mikakos thinks creating jobs for young people is not her issue.
“Under the Andrews Government, TAFE and training enrolments have plummeted, youth unemployment is as high as 17 per cent and the Back to Work scheme is failing to create full-time jobs.
“Victoria’s young people deserve better.”